Whatcom County and the city of Bellingham have instituted changes to emergency medical response resources that will affect services in the city and the county.
The changes are being made in response to a new agreement negotiated by the city and the county. This new deal replaces an old agreement that Bellingham officials felt was too costly for the city, while the county chafed at having too little control.
Under the new agreement, which officially took effect on July 1, the city of Bellingham will provide three ambulances equipped with Advanced Life Support (ALS) capabilities for use by the rest of the county. Whatcom County Fire District 7 in Ferndale will provide a fourth ambulance and will coordinate the ALS training.
Under the old system, which expired at the end of 2013, the Bellingham Fire Department operated four ambulances throughout the county, while District 7 provided limited ALS service when needed. The county hopes this new system will better distribute the cost of operating the ambulances and grant ALS-equipped ambulances a wider range of coverage.
The only changes that may be noticeable to the community are the renumbering of a few units as seen below:
• Medic 1 and Medic 2 operated by Bellingham Fire at Station #1, 1800 Broadway, will primarily serve the city of Bellingham and southwest Whatcom County.
• Medic 10 (formerly Medic 4) operated by Bellingham Fire at Medic Station #10, 858 E. Smith Road will primarily serve the city of Lynden and eastern Whatcom County.
• Medic 45 (formerly Medic 41) operated by Fire District #7 at Fire Station #45, 1886 Grandview Road will primarily serve the city of Ferndale and northwest Whatcom County.
• EMS 1 (formerly EMS 6) operated by Bellingham Fire at Station #1, 1800 Broadway, will provide 24-hour supervision and management of the day-to-day operation of the ALS system.
|This new EMS plan met with some controversy back in December, when Bellingham city councilman Stan Snapp expressed concerns that District 7 didn’t have enough experience to properly coordinate countywide ALS service.
“We’ve spent the last six months making sure District 7 and Bellingham have been receiving the training that they need,” said Tyler Schroeder of the Whatcom County Executive’s office. “Everyone is up to speed.”
Schroeder anticipates a smooth transition to the new system.
“There’s been a lot of cooperation,” he said. “We’ve had lots of good communication between offices, and lots of support from the executive oversight board. We think it will go smoothly.”